In the 1960s and 1970s, Richard Caiton recorded a small clutch of deep soul classics. His recordings are revered in Europe and Japan where a copy of one of his 45s can fetch over $1,000.
Born in New Orleans in 1944, Caiton grew up near the St. Bernard projects and first sang at the local Baptist church. Caiton attended Clark High where he learned to play piano and began writing his own songs.
"I purposely wrote songs that didn't sound like they didn't come from New Orleans," recalled Caiton in 2004, also citing Curtis Mayfield and Motown as influences.
Ironically, Dave Bartholomew--who embodied the New Orleans sound--produced Caiton's first single, the soulful "You Look Like A Flower," which came out on GNP Crescendo, a Los Angeles label. The record stalled and two years later he waxed a couple of deep soul singles on the local Up-Tight imprint, "Without Your Love," and the social statement "Take A Hold, Brothers and Sisters"--the later which sold 30,000 singles around New Orleans.
In 1969, Caiton signed a management contract with Elijah Walker, a no-nonsense, longshoreman turned music promoter who owned Skyline Attractions. Walker was instrumental in launching the careers of King Floyd and Jean Knight when he sent them to the Malaco Studio in Jackson, MS and assigned Wardell Quezergue to arrange their sessions. If it worked for them, so Walker thought he might duplicate their success with Caiton.
Caiton recorded several songs at Malaco, but only one single was released, "I'm Gonna Love You More." As luck would have it, his career hit a snag when Walker died unexpectedly. Caiton was without a label but he continued to write and concentrate on a career as an educator. In 1975, he wrote "Send Me Back," which was recorded by the Pointer Sisters at Seasaint Studio. Producer Allen Toussaint was impressed and offered him a job as house songwriter. Caiton declined, however, because it would interfere with his "other" career.
Caiton's last single, the soulful "Where's the Love," appeared on Senator Jones' J. B.s label and again Quezergue arranged it. Not much happened and Caiton put music in the rear view mirror. That was until 2002 when Gary Cape, who owned the UK Grapevine label, contacted him. Cape was in New Orleans on a record-buying trip and approached Caiton with the idea of reissuing some of his old 45s. The proposal came to fruition not long after when "Reflections" was issued which collected his previous 45s, as well as the unreleased sides from Malaco. Naturally, it was well received in deep soul circles. Richard Caiton will make a very rare appearance and revive these sides at the 2013 Ponderosa Stomp Festival.
By Jeff Hannusch
Richard Caiton Interview